Friday, January 1, 2016

On the Patch: Yards Park 2015

2015 was a weird year birding on my dirty little patch of the Anacostia, Yards Park. As I've outlined in (too much) detail before, The Yards Park is my typical afternoon dog-walking-while-also-keeping-an-eye-out-for-birds location.

High Island it ain't. There are no trees, really, and only a few bushes here and there. Lots of gulls roost on the river sometimes, and other times it's barren, even when the nearby Potomac is covered in loons and grebes and whatnots. But that's what patches are, ain't they? You learn to know a place well enough and then even the most mundane birds, the slightest out-of-place "vagrant" becomes a big deal.

I moved to this area in March of 2014, so 2015 was my first full year birding at Yards Park. I hadn't looked at the numbers until today, and when I did I was surprised to see that even though I put in a lot of time with the ol' pup, I saw far fewer species this year than last.

In total, I saw 42 species at the Park this year, the last being a Common Yellowthroat back in September. I had only four new birds for the location: a Cooper's Hawk, American Kestrel, Downy Woodpecker (in the trees by the actual Naval facility), and a Black-crowned Night-heron.

In 2014, however, despite having a three month disadvantage, I managed 55 species.  34 of them were new to the park. (In my first ever visit, after a Nationals game in April 2013,  I managed a whopping 23 species, my biggest single checklist ever!

Would you like to see this represented graphically? Sure you would:

So what happened to make 2015 so light? I'm not quite sure. There was a real lack of birds on the water in 2015, unlike the winter of 2014 with it's huge grebe invasion. Red-necked and pied-billed grebes are all over the place in March 2014, but didn't make an appearance at all in 2015.  I also somehow managed to miss BOTH vulture species in 2015 (?! That can't be right!) And cardinal (!) And towhee. I don't know. Tough year.

But all you can do is keep trying. I just took Gibson for his first walk of 2016 and managed 13 species, including a spiffy Bald Eagle. Here's to many more in the months to come.


Sadie said...

I've noticed fewer birds on the water by the Barry this year, perhaps because of the work the Navy was doing on the dock and the boat hull surveys. The cormerants seem to have relocated downriver a bit. I wonder what will happen when it gets towed away.

Anonymous said...

Last year I missed Mountain Bluebird, Le Conte's Sparrow, and Common Loon for my county. They all should have been easy to get, but I couldn't find any of them to save my life. Let's do better in 2016!

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